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Work for a Cruise Line


The most attractive aspect of working on a cruise ship is the ability to travel to destinations you may not be able to visit otherwise. For very large cruise ships, it takes hundreds of people to operate the ship and serve the guests. From sailing staff members to dining room and restaurant servers, there are many different jobs available for people who would love to work and cruise.

Most large cruise ships are similar to small cities; they house their own restaurants, casinos, stores, hair salons, and other amenities. Workers who have no previous sailing experience but who enjoy working with people may be able to obtain a position as a server or clerk in one of the ship’s stores. Additionally, there are many people such as the steward and cruise director, whose job it is to make sure passengers have everything they need and are informed of the various activities on board and at port.

If you want to work at a casino then see that page of our website or the Casino Jobs website.

You might think the work environment on board a cruise ship is somewhat "laid back;" however, that is not always the case. When a ship is full of passengers, keeping up with their needs can be stressful.

Since workers such as stewards and servers receive tips, it is important they offer very high quality service in order to receive the highest tips. Workers sometimes work long hours and there are times when the weather conditions may make ocean travel difficult. Workers must assist passengers, while still performing their duties.

Since a large number of cruise ship jobs involve serving passengers, you must be comfortable in that role and enjoy working with people. You must also be comfortable being away from home for weeks at a time.

Here’s a list of some of the most common jobs on a cruise ship:

  • Bartender
  • Cabin steward
  • Captain
  • Carpenter
  • Chef
  • Co-captain
  • Cruise directorcruise ship image
  • Deck officer
  • Engineer
  • Ensign
  • Expediter
  • Fitness instructor/leader
  • Golf instructor
  • Maintenance personnel
  • Maitre d’/Host
  • Mates
  • Mechanics
  • Radio officer
  • Restaurant server
  • Sous chef
  • Table captain
  • Wine steward
  • Yoga instructor
  • Youth activities director

Let’s take a look at more information that could help you to decide whether a job with a cruise line is right for you.

Employment Outlook

There should be plenty of opportunities on cruise ships in the coming years, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics. The Bureau notes that the number of jobs on all water transportation vessels (including cruise ships) will increase by 15% by the year 2015. The Bureau says this expected growth is due to an increase in tourism, which is definitely good news for the cruise industry.

Salary Outlook

The range of salaries that can be earned on a cruise ship is as large as the number of jobs. The more skilled an experienced a worker needs to be, the more money he or she can earn on the ship. For example, captains and experienced officers and engineers can earn an average annual salary of about $60,000, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Servers, bartenders and cabin stewards, on the other hand, earn smaller salaries. Depending on the size of the ship, servers can make somewhere in the range of $24,000 to $32,000 per year, while bartenders and table captains can earn more than $35,000 per year. These figures don’t include tips.

Education and Training Requirements

How much education and training you’ll need to get a job on a cruise ship depends on what kind of job you’re looking for. If you’re interested in working as a server or steward, you won’t need a college education, but the cruise line will most likely want to see that you have at least three years of experience as a server on another cruise line or luxury resort or hotel, serving similar clientele.

Chefs and kitchen staff may be required to be graduates of culinary schools or have several years of experience at a luxury resort.

Seamen, sailors, captains, and other more specialized positions will need more education and experience. The U.S. Coast Guard requires all sailors to obtain credentials and/or licensure. The two credentials required are the Transportation Worker Identification Credential or the Merchant Mariner Credential. To obtain these credentials and licensure, you can either attend a merchant marine academy or serve hundreds of hours on a ship. Then you must pass a written exam.

Once cruise ship workers are hired, they usually receive extensive on the job training.

It’s important to remember that working on a cruise ship, no matter what the capacity, is hard work. You must enjoy working with and serving people (for most jobs), as well as traveling. But for the right employees, it’s a great career choice.

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